Rolf Harris Drawn in to Most Powerful People in Art List

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), December 3, 2002 | Go to article overview

Rolf Harris Drawn in to Most Powerful People in Art List


Byline: HANNAH JONES Arts and Media Editor

THE most powerful people in art are not artists but the multi-millionaires who collect their work.

And then, of course, there's Rolf Harris.

The assertion that money rules in modern art - a depressing thought for those scraping a living by simply being creative for art's sake - is made in a definitive list of the top 100 most powerful people in the British art world compiled by the influential magazine, ArtReview.

Advertising guru and famed collector Charles Saatchi comes in at number one and is hailed as the most powerful art figure in the world.

The high profile use of his wallet is credited with creating the most hyped art movement in the British scene, Young British Artists, which includes the likes of Tracey Emin (number 41 on the list) and Damien Hirst (number 62).

Just one artist, the German painter Gerhard Richter, is considered important enough to make the top 20 and there are only 12 creators of art, as opposed to collectors and the like, who make the list at all.

David Hockney comes in at 47, lagging behind the enfants terribles of YBA.

But there, right at the end of the top 100, is painter and maestro of the wobble board, Rolf Harris.

Although the Wizard of Oz is better known for his enormous paintings and on-screen cartoons, he has a more traditional side to his artistic expression.

The Australian entertainer who has made art on the run as identifiably friendly Antipodean as his beard and didgeridoo-playing are synonymous as his trademark.

Under the tutelage of Australian Impressionist Hayward Veal he began to develop his characteristic free style.

By applying Veal's approach to working on large surfaces, he began making a name for himself on television when he produced huge works in a short time.

With his technique firmly rooted in Impressionism and his ability to look at the world with a new freshness and immediacy, he is the man who was last year named as the world's most famous artist, ahead of Turner, Constable and Rembrandt. It's therefore impossible to ignore the irrepressible Aussie in light of the above, and because his recent television series, Rolf on Art, got more than six million viewers, more than any other TV art show. …

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